We all are aware of the social prejudice and increasing number of atrocities faced by women in their everyday life, to name a few; female foeticide, rape, eve teasing, trafficking, dowry deaths etc. Despite all the endeavours undertaken by the government, NGOs and various education institutions to create awareness and instill gender sensitization, the crimes against women only seem to be on rise.
In this dismal scenario people like Farhan Akhtar have lit a ray of hope through campaigns like Men Against Rape & Discrimination or MARD, in partnership with Bling and JWT Digital. Quoting from the MARD website “MARD is here to create awareness amongst men to instill gender equality and respect towards women. It is here to bring about a change in the mind set and thereby bringing about a sustained change in society.”
The Birth of MARD
Farhan Akhtar conceived the MARD after the horrific rape and murder of Pallavi Purkayastha, a Mumbai-based lawyer and employee of Akhtar’s production house in August 2012. Akhtar has earlier also showed his support to women related issues but the campaign took a concrete form following the furor over the brutal December 16th Nirbhaya gangrape and MARD was officially launched in March, 2013.
The campaign took its first steps by spreading the message using social media like Facebook and Twitter to outreach the youth. On 26th April 2013l, during the IPL6 match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab at Eden Gardens, Farhan Akhtar and Shaan performed to a Bengali poem written by Javed Akhtar exclusively for the initiative. Also 70,000 fake moustaches were distributed during the IPL 6 match in Kolkata, along with flyers with the poem printed on them.
The idea was to drive home the message that each man needs to rise to become a ‘mard’ in the true sense. That he should in thought, word and action respect women and make them feel safe in his company. He should stand for her rights and and accept her as his equal, rather merely treat her as a fellow human and not an inferior being. Actors like Shahrukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Hritik Roshan, Arjun Rampal, Priyanka Chopra, Sachin Tendulkar and Shabana Azmi have come out in support of Mard and its cause.
MARD has also partnered with Magic Bus to lay emphasis on gender awareness through education. This initiative will require 8000 young mentors who will work every week with over 250000 children in India to promote “Gender Equitable Behaviour” and crusade against “Gender Based Violence”. The idea is to ‘catch them young’, as in help imbibe gender sensitivity lessons from early childhood in children and thus create a MARD revolution.
Farhan, along with composers duo Salim and Sulaiman Merchant, has lent his voice for the new MARD song, Chulein Aasman. The song is about the need for giving women the opportunity to realise their true potential and let them break free from the cultural and social bondages that restrict them to the house. This idea is also backed by Google’s ‘Helping Women Get Online’ campaign, which aims to increase the percentage of Indian women with access to the internet.
The latest and by far the greatest development of the campaign has been Farhan Akhtar’s nomination as the goodwill brand ambassador for UN’s initiative HeForShe. HeForShe is a global movement which calls upon men across the world to unite and stand up against the persisting inequalities, that prevail in the guise of various crimes against women.
A delighted Akhtar said,”I am honoured to serve UN Women as the Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia. This gives me and our MARD initiative an added impetus to work together towards a more gender equal India and world.”
Infact, Emma Watson recently tweeted about Farhan’s efforts on MARD and standing up for gender equality.
The need of the hour is for every man to join the initiative with open arms. Such campaigns help mobilise the people against causes that need constant participation and thorough supervision to help eliminate the long-prevailing social stigma related to women. More importantly, they highlight ‘our collective shame’ for the individuals who are ultimately responsible for such shameful actions and discriminations.
Watch the video below by East India Comedy to understand what our collective shame is.
Remember “Men of Quality Respect Women’s Equality”. Real men are the ones who care and treat humans as HUMANS regardless of gender!
Change begins when we start caring. Be the Catalyst for Change by taking your pledge here: http://therealmard.org/index.php
By Aakanksha Kumari